Monday, 10 April 2017

The Brecks

A rather warm and sunny weekend, with temperatures way above normal. This had an effect on birding, with few migrants, and a strange lack of things that would normally be expected to be seen at this time of year.
On Saturday I went with Colin out to the brecks, hoping to pick up some of the species that are found there. On the way though, we stopped off at the dung heaps around Ashwell. A few Yellow Wagtails have been reported here as usual, but so far Wheatears have been non-existent, and things on the whole have been rather quiet. Being a rather misty start there was a chance one or two things may have dropped in over night and stuck around.
We checked out all the extant heaps, some of the older ones have been rather reduced in size, limiting their bird appeal but a couple of new ones have appeared. Unfortunately, all we saw were  three or four singing Corn Buntings, a pair of Linnets and a single Pied wagtail.
The drive up to Lakenheath Fen was a bit different to usual. The Barton Mills services on the A 11 were on fire, and cars were parked outside the Lakenheath airbase with hoards of aviation twitchers lined up waiting for a squadron of F15s to take off (presumably due to Mr Trumps recent adventures in the Middle East). Would have been nice to linger as its been a long long time since I saw any significant activity here. Used to be fun driving past with the car shaking (and warming up) as F111s fired up their engines.
By the time we reached RSPB Lakneheath, the F15s were taking off and for the rest of the morning we could hear aircraft in the distance but couldn't really see anything. It was getting rather warm with clear blue skies and insects were out in abundance. Saw my first Orange Tips, Green Veined Whites and Speckled Woods plus a lot of Peacocks Brimstones and Small Tortoiseshells. On the washes, the first noticeable bird was a Great White Egret dwarfing a nearby Little Egret. Rather harder to spot, being tucked away in a corner was the Glossy Ibis, so both target birds for the reserve were ticked off in a couple of minutes. A few Avocet and Redshank were the only waders, with lots of Teal Shoveller and Mallard still remaining.
A walk out to the western viewpoint failed to produce much. Garganey were supposed to be around, but no-one seemed to be able to locate any, there were a few Snipe on one of the scrapes, and several Marsh Harriers were in the air. A very early Grasshopper Warbler had been reported and I thought I heard it a couple of times but it was being drowned out by very vocal Wrens in the nearby wood. No sign of any Cranes but we did hear and eventually see a Bittern in flight.
After a bit of lunch we headed off to Lynford, stopping off at a couple of locations in Thetford Forest to scan some of the clearings. The first one, where we had been a couple of years ago produced one Buzzard and one female Goshawk, though both were a long way off. The second wasn't as good, with no Goshawk and no Woodlarks either.
We reached Lynford in the early afternoon, not really the best time but we were hopeful. More butterflies, including a rather nice Holly Blue.

By far the most noticeable birds were rather vocal Nuthatches which seemed to be every where.

The feeding station was quiet with birds coming down to the drinking pool. A couple of Dunnocks and Robins, two Grey Squirrels, a male Siskin, and later on a male Brambling.

No Hawfinches here, and none down at the paddocks, though I did find a Marsh Tit, and a Reed Bunting posed on the bridge.

As I said earlier, a rather odd kind of day. No hirundines anywhere, I would have expected some over the larger bodies of water. No Cuckoos heard either, and apart from Chiffchaffs and a couple of Blackcaps warblers were non existent. Also despite the warmth, apart from the Marsh Harriers, and single Goshawk and Buzzard, we only saw a couple of other raptors all day-two Kestrels and a Red Kite.

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